BA scraps short-haul meals

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on July 30, 2009

British Airways is to scrap all free meals, except breakfast, on its short-haul flights to save £22m a year. Passengers on flights after 10am, which last less than two-and-half hours, will only be served drinks and snacks. They will not have the option to buy food.

The measure, starting next week, comes as the airline is trying to trim costs. It is raising more than £600m to help weather the recession, while thousands of staff have agreed to take pay cuts or working part-time.

Currently passengers on short-haul flights typically get a sandwich. This will be replaced by a bag of nuts or other snack. But the carrier insisted it was still a “full service” airline, with those flying before 10am continuing to be served with breakfast. “When you fly with British Airways, the in-flight catering is top-class and, unlike some other airlines, it is free,” a BA spokesman said.

“It is not unusual to make small changes to avoid waste and save money where it makes sense and it meets customers’ changing tastes.” Its research suggested that it was only after two-and-a-half hours in the air that passengers require more substantial refreshments, they added.

BA will be looking at all of its business and “some sacred cows could go”, said Laurie Price, director of aviation strategy at Mott MacDonald. “Axing meals on short-haul flights will reduce BA’s differentiation from the no-frills carriers,” he warned. “But with things like not charging for checking in at a desk and free drinks, passengers are still getting more elements of a free service.”

Thanks to BBC for the quotes. More information is available at

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